Nothing plants roots in Israel more than trees themselves. Israel Trees, a project of ‘Zo Artzeinu’ meaning ‘this is our land,’ protects and safeguards Israel by allowing the land to grow and flourish. By planting trees in Israel, not only do Jews declare their physical presence in the land and beautify it, but it also helps boost the economy by providing support to the people of Israel that care for these trees and its fruit.
Founded in 1993, Israel Trees has planted more fruit trees than any other organization in the 21 years that they have been around. Full communities in Israel, all the way from the north to the south, benefit from the beautiful Israel Trees planted throughout the country. The organization only plants fruit trees, which requires much more work than your average tree, creating not just fruit but also providing work for Jewish laborers, who they only hire.
Israel Trees has had a busy few months after this past summer’s war in Gaza. For each fallen IDF soldier, 100 trees were planted in their memory. In addition, a full orchard of 3,000 trees was planted in memory of the three murdered teenagers, Naftali Frenkel (16), Gilad Sha’ar (16), and Eyal Yifrah (19), and for the lives of Israel’s fallen soldiers.
Israel Trees wasn’t only busy this year planting the large sum of trees in memory of those fallen, but they were also preparing for this year’s Shmita, or Sabbatical year. Shmita is the last of a seven year agricultural cycle commanded by the Bible where the land of Israel lays fallow and all agricultural work is forbidden.
This commandment comes from Leviticus 25, where God commands the Israelites, saying “When you enter the land I am going to give you, the land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord.” Since no trees are allowed to be planted during the Shmita year, Israel Trees worked hard to plant over 50,000 trees before the Hebrew year began.
To involve not just Israelis in keeping the biblical commandment, Israel Trees partnered with those outside of Israel to share in the commandment. Until the end of the 2014 year, one can still partake in the commandment of Shmita by sponsoring a tree already planted before the year.
Partaking in the practice of Shmita isn’t the only way Israel Trees allows others to share in a biblical commandment. Planting trees fulfills the words of the Bible, as stated in Leviticus 19:23: “Plant fruit trees when entering the land of Israel.”
By providing a way to plant roots in the land, Israel Trees allows for blessings to be bestowed upon its supporters as it says in Genesis 12:13, “And I will bless those who bless you.”